|Name: _________________________||Period: ___________________|
This test consists of 5 short answer questions and 1 (of 3) essay topics.
Short Answer Questions
1. Whose pet does Ellen say the cat is?
2. What finally causes Conrad to fight?
3. What does Roger claim the Russians are responsible for?
4. Why does Kreton claim his race is perfect?
5. Who does Roger invite onto his television show?
Essay Topic 1
One of the themes that runs through the play is the infatuation of the characters with sex. Ellen, Conrad, Reba, and the aide all think at various times in the novel of sex and sexual relations. Vidal seems to use the play to explore the attitudes of Americans in the time period toward sex.
Choose one of the following options and address/discuss the questions:
1. Give several examples of what the characters in the play think of sex. Is it portrayed as a method of procreation, or an enjoyable pastime? What are the symbolic links presented? Why are these important?
2. Ellen notes that sex is a taboo subject, although is it always on the mind. Kreton notes the oddity of sex as taboo while violence is widespread. What do you think of that argument? Is Kreton right? Why do we treat these subjects as we do? What makes sex so taboo?
3. The concept of sex has drastically changed since the writing of the play. Compare and contrast the concept of sex as it was in the 1950s to current notions. What are similarities? What are differences? What caused the shift in perspective?
Essay Topic 2
In the play, Vidal references the standing political condition between Russia and the United States, often referred to as the Cold War. Choose one of the following to discuss.
1. Why do you think Vidal bases the novel on the Cold War fears of the United States military? What is he trying to say about the suspicious nature of both sides? What threats exist in such a suspicious environment, as is shown by the creation of hostilities by Kreton? What could such conditions result in?
2. Examine one specific comment in the play that refers to the feelings against Russians by the United States. Discuss the comment in terms of historical significance. What does such a comment tell you about the political situation in the time this play was written? What does the inclusion of such comments indicate in terms of Vidal's position on the Cold War? Why?
Essay Topic 3
In the play, Conrad plays the role of a pacifist throughout most of the scenes. However, when faced with a man having sexual thoughts about his girlfriend, he becomes violent. What does this say about Conrad's character? About pacifism? Is he truly a pacifist? His reasoning is that everyone, at some point, loses control, but that this doesn't make them naturally violent. Do you agree? Why or why not?
This section contains 2,251 words
(approx. 8 pages at 300 words per page)